Tag Archives: life

Let’s Talk About Respect

Last Friday, I proposed four key ingredients we need to cultivate within ourselves if we want to work to reduce tensions in our society and bring about a more peaceful and loving world. They are: respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness. When combined, these four values become a powerful force for good.

Today, I focus upon the value of respect. I’ll begin by restating my original call for respect: “We must commit ourselves to valuing the worth and dignity of each individual being. Mutual respect lays a foundation upon which we can build mutual understanding. Without respect, people’s voices cannot be heard. When we work to respect one another, we can achieve tolerance and even acceptance of one another.”

I want to be clear that the type of respect I am referring to is the kind of respect that values each individual being, their right to life, and their sense of self worth. I am talking about respect for all people by all people.

In the wake of the horrific act in Las Vegas on Sunday night, televangelist Pat Robertson spoke about respect. He said, “we have disrespected authority. There is profound disrespect for our president… disrespect for the institutions of our government… All the way up and down the line, disrespect.” Here, Robertson is referring to an old-school style of respect that says ‘you should not question authority.’

First of all, let’s look at the fact that Pat Robertson is speculating about a horrific act being caused by a lack of respect and completely missed the point that the most basic type of respect we as human being can show one another is a respect for our right to exist. It is true that Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock perpetrated his hideous act because of disrespect, but it was his disrespect for people’s right to life. It was his disrespect for people’s worth and dignity. How Robertson could talk about respect and miss this point is surprising.

Next, I want to make a clear distinction between the type of respect Pat Robertson is talking about the the type of respect I am talking about. I do not mean a blind respect for authority. I mean respect for the sanctity of life. I mean respect for people’s dignity. I mean the type of respect that people in authority all too often deny to those they see as less than them. Respect for each and every person’s potential for good, for their right to prosperity, for their happiness.

Let’s all show each other respect. Let’s practice being respectful toward one another even when we disagree. Let’s take action in a respectful way to advance equality, justice, and peace.

Love to you all.

“RECK” – One Word to Save the World

We live in challenging times. Public discord is on the rise. Hate groups that used to lurk in the shadows are pushing their way into the mainstream. Political and ideological differences that have separated us for years are splitting us farther and farther apart. America, it appears, is beginning to unravel at the seams – and globally things don’t look much better. What can we as ordinary individuals do to make a difference? How do we turn this tide?

For nearly 20 years, I have been a student of compassion. I have even written about it before in this blog. I believe in the transformative power of compassion to improve lives and create a more loving and tolerant society. Over time, I’ve come to see that when combined with a few other key ingredients, it can be used to help create a more civil and just society. I believe that the way we treat one another matters. In both large and small ways, the way we view and interact with each other makes a difference in how our societies function and how the world moves.

In order to create a more civil society – one rooted in equality and valuing the life of every person – there are four vital ingredients. If everyone from the average citizen through heads of state would think of and interact with one another using these four important principles, we could reshape the world into one comprised of peace and mutual understanding.

These principles are:
Respect
Empathy
Compassion
Kindness

Each principle builds upon the previous one so that when taken in order they create a powerful force for good.

First, we need to start from a place of respect. We must commit ourselves to valuing the worth and dignity of each individual being. Mutual respect lays a foundation upon which we can build mutual understanding. Without respect, people’s voices cannot be heard. When we work to respect one another, we can achieve tolerance and even acceptance of one another.

Next, we must strive for empathy. By laboring to put ourselves in the shoes of “the other,” we can develop real connection that simply is not possible when we distance ourselves from one another. Empathy is the spark that ignites the flame of compassion.

This brings us to compassion. To live is to suffer. When we connect with the suffering that each of us experiences, it motivates us to want to relieve that suffering. And, when we feel deep compassion for each other’s suffering, it is not possible for us to want to hurt one another.

Finally, there is kindness. When we treat each other with mutual kindness great things are possible. In time, trust develops out of kindness as well as genuine care and concern.

When combined, these principles create a single word: RECK.

Applied universally, this one word could save the world.

Respect, Empathy, Compassion, Kindness.

Make them your mantra. Make them your prayer. Make them your practice.

You’ll be surprised how quickly they can change your life and the world around you.

The concept is simple. The practice is hard. The results make it all worthwhile.

Give it a try and report back. I welcome your feedback.

My First Father’s Day

Looking back, I wish that I would have kept a journal (or written a blog!) beginning when my kids were born.  They’re nearly four now and believe me they are still cranking out new material every day.  Many of those early thoughts on fatherhood are lost to the ether, but I did have the opportunity to speak at my church about fatherhood, on my first Father’s Day.  Here’s the text from that speech, given June 19, 2011.  Re-reading it, I was surprised how much emotion it brought back about our journey to parenthood and those first months of daddydom.  Without further adieu…

It’s my first Father’s Day!  Would it be wrong of me to stand up here and do a happy dance?  My wife, D [she has a full name, but I’ll just refer to her as D], gave birth to two beautiful babies, Nate and Emily [those aren’t my kids’ real names, but they’re nice aliases aren’t they?], in August of 2010.  I say that I want to do a happy dance, because the birth of our twins meant both a beginning and an ending for D and me.

Logically, it meant the beginning of a grand new adventure with these two incredible beings who – as one friend so magically put it – chose us to be their parents.  But for us, it also meant the end of a nearly decade-long journey toward parenthood:  A journey that meant three surgeries for D, countless rounds of fertility drugs and IUIs, and a failed IVF attempt; all of which resulted in the sum total of two miscarriages.  Finally, in late 2009 we had a successful IVF cycle.  Two embryos were implanted in D’s uterus, both decided to stick around, and 38 weeks and three days later TA-DA!  Perfection!

A quick shout out to any of you out there who might be going through something similar to what we went through – I empathize with the fact that at some point all of the encouraging well-meaning words from the people who love you start to sound trite, hollow, and sometimes bizarrely callous.  But know this – it’s worth it.  Because it makes you appreciate your babies that much more.  It taps you on the shoulder on those too exhausted nights once the babies come when you can’t remember the last time you slept for more than one hour at a time and more than three hours in any 24-hour period and says, “Isn’t this awesome!”

…And your children – like mine – will NEVER be able to say that you didn’t want really them.

So, one might imagine that my path to becoming a father (I still love saying that, “father”) has probably affected my feelings about fatherhood greatly.  And one would be right.  I LOOOOOOOVE it.  I honestly, without a doubt, cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing with my life.

And I think it has had a profound impact on the kind of father that I am, because I am a radically different person than I was when we started trying to have kids eight years ago.  When I look back, I see a kid who was still trying to figure out who he was and where he was going in life.  I probably worked too much and cared too little.  With each passing year I felt a need to pull myself more closely in line with the kind of parent that I wanted to be.  I slowed down, got a respectable job with reasonable hours and good benefits, opened myself to living with mindful compassion, and reflected a lot on the kinds of parenting choices I’d like to make, rather than just going from the gut.

Oh yeah, and I joined a church.  This church; full of amazing people who have all been so supportive both in word and deed to D and me while we have muscled through the first year of twindom.  The meals, visits, coupons and words of encouragement have been invaluable.

I sometimes receive nice compliments from people who think that I’m a more hands on father than dads in general.  I appreciate that, because I do try to be “all-in” as a dad for a couple of reasons:

The first is by choice.  In the years that we were working to become parents I got to see a lot of my friends become dads, and as soon as some of their babies began to cry they’d pull the, “Oh, time to go back to Mom!” maneuver.  It seemed clever enough at the time, but cut to two years later and I would see the pained look on their faces when that child would tear herself from his arms and run to Mommy when she got a boo-boo or got upset.  Now, when one of my babies cries and my wife asks if I need her to take him or her I say, “No, I want them to know that Daddy can make it better too.”

The second reason I’m probably more hands on is by necessity.  Because, well, TWINS!  For example, D and I roomed in with our kids in the hospital – and the day they were born the nurse helped us into our room, called me over to the bassinet that our daughter was in and asked me if I’d ever changed a newborn’s diaper.  I said, “no.”  She changed Emily’s diaper and explained what she was doing as she went.  Then she turned to me, handed me a diaper for Nate, said “good luck!” and left.  While D was recovering from her C-section I proceeded to change 10 to 12 diapers per child, per day for the next 5 days – that’s between 100 and 120 diapers – and that was before we even took them home from the hospital.  Since that time I’m sure it easily totals into the thousands.

Ultimately, every guy has to be his own kind of father.  For me, this is what feels right.  In all honesty, it’s not completely for my kids that I do it.  It’s also for me – it was a long journey here and I don’t want to miss a thing.